Destination Tea: The Lowell’s Pembroke Room

Where:  Upper East Side, NYC
Style:  Elegant Traditional
Tea Selection:  18 loose leaf teas by Dammann Frères
Teatimes:  Daily 2-6
Reservations:  Highly suggested
Contact: 212-838-1400
Cost: $55 The Classic Pembroke Tea
Destination Tea Tips:  For a cozy afternoon tea, request a corner table, and bring tip money for the coat check. To reach the Pembroke Room, you will take a lobby elevator upstairs.Facade of The Lowell, Upper East Side, NYC

Destination Tea Notes:  As you arrive for afternoon tea at The Lowell, you feel yourself a true New Yorker, imagining you’ve just finished shopping at the high end fashion houses around the corner on Madison Avenue, and afterwards might pop over to Bergdorf Goodman and Tiffany’s before strolling through Central Park. Built in 1927 and renovated for its 90th birthday, The Lowell breathes refinement and class without being uptight. The staff is inviting and solicitous and the tea selection from France’s Dammann Frères is a rare treat in an American tearoom. We were surprised at the few missteps in the meal, which, based on others’ glowing reviews, seems uncharacteristic of The Lowell. However, all told, we enjoyed making a holiday family memory and luxuriating in the charming Pembroke Room.

Holiday decorations in the quiet lobby; the elevator to the upstairs Pembroke Room
We pass through the festively decorated lobby to the elevator that takes us to the upstairs Pembroke Room.
Corner table in the Pembroke Room
Striped upholstered armchairs and a tufted loveseat surround a secluded corner table near windows with sheer and floral drapery, that all feels quietly intimate and sophisticated. Taking our places around this table, we know that good conversation is going to be had.
holiday decorations at The Lowell NYC
Glamorous, glittery holiday sideboard

Tea Service

Tea list at The Lowell's Pembroke Room in NYC
Each guest chooses an individual pot of a Dammann Frères tea, from a list that includes The Lowell’s recommended seasonal blends that complement the current afternoon tea savories and sweets. In the French style, many of the teas proffer delicate fragrant, floral and/or fruity flavors.
Tea service at The Lowell in NYC
We each order a different tea and delight in playing hostess to one another so that everyone gets to try several teas. The tea warmers keep our silver pots so hot that we use the provided handle holders (akin to an oven mitt, fits over the teapot’s handle), pouring tea through our individual tea strainers. Two thoughts on this tea service:  1. it can be a bit awkward managing the full, hot teapots one-handed via the handle holders (not pictured); 2. for black teas, the custom of steeping the tea in the serving teapot works best when the ready tea is served in its entirety at once. While herbal infusions and green teas will not suffer from remaining in the pot after brew time is complete, black teas could become bitter or acidic when left to steep beyond five minutes.

Scones & Spreads, Savories and Sweets

Tea sandwiches at The Lowell
First to arrive are the tea sandwiches:  cucumber and dill, turkey and cranberry mayonnaise, Scottish smoked salmon with crème fraiche, filet mignon with horseradish mayonnaise (a favorite), and lobster brioche. All are delicious, but the bread for the turkey and filet mignon sandwiches has begun to harden, as if left out too long.
Scones at The Lowell in NYC
Servers make several rounds with baskets of warm, large scones, in currant and blueberry flavors. While my daughters rave over the blueberry scones, my currant scone sounds a crisp “crack” when broken in two, having been overdone on its bottom.
Condiments at The Lowell in NYC
A quartet of condiments for our scones, including homemade lemon curd, devonshire cream and two jams
Desserts at afternoon tea at The Lowell, NYC
When dessert comes on its own curate, prepare to indulge. The Lowell offers a very French array of mini desserts, including éclairs, assorted fruit tarts, petit fours and macarons, none too sweet, too rich or too large. Merci beaucoup!
Christmas color at The Lowell in NYC
The Lowell’s cream and steel grey palette creates a lovely backdrop for these pops of Christmas color.


Tea Voyageuse, discovering the world of afternoon tea, based in Atlanta, Georgia.

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